Christopher Bell Is In the Driver’s Seat With The Playoffs Looming

Christopher Bell

After picking up his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series-leading fourth win of the season in the circuit’s last stop at Pocono Raceway in Long, Pond, Pa., Christopher Bell took over the points lead from reigning champion Johnny Sauter. Including this weekend’s event at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Bell has four more regular season races left to hold off Sauter and earn the coveted 15 playoff bonus points for being the regular-season champion.

After winning one race and finishing third in the 2016 Truck Series championship standings, the 22-year-old driver has returned with a vengeance this season. In addition to toping the Truck Series point standings, Bell currently tops the circuit in poles (three), playoff points (24), laps led (521), driver rating (118.9), average starting position (4.3), average finish (5.6), top-10 finishes (11) and fastest laps run (228).

Intermediate tracks have been Bell’s strong suit this season, as all three of his poles and all four of his victories have come at tracks between 1.5-miles and 2.5 miles in length. He started the season off winning the pole and all three stages at Atlanta Motor Speedway and also picked up victories at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and most recently Pocono. His average finish in five starts on intermediate tracks this season is 2.0.  When Bell hasn’t been able to pick up the victory on the intermediate tracks, his boss and team owner Kyle Busch has picked up his slack and earned Kyle Busch Motorsports the victory at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Bell had a fast Tundra at Michigan last year, but didn’t have the result to show for it. After running inside the top five for the majority of the race, he made a move to take the lead from Cole Custer with 25 laps remaining, but ended up getting aero loose and crashing into another competitor and then into the outside wall. The accident relegated him to a disappointing 24th-place finish.

The talented wheelman will be looking to redeem himself from last year’s disappointing finish this weekend. Bell aims to be the leader of the pack at the end of Saturday’s 100-lap race in the Irish Hills in an effort to collect his fifth Truck Series win of 2017 and extend his points lead as the end of the regular season approaches.

Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 4 NCWTS JBL/SiriusXM Tundra:

What is your outlook heading to Michigan this week?

“I ran really well at Michigan last year until I crashed going for the lead late in the race, so I’m looking forward to going back there this year and trying to redeem myself. Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) had a really fast Tundra there last year with William (Byron) – he and I worked really well together and were able to stay up front most of the race. Michigan is a place that you can’t really drive away from people, so you have to make sure that your truck handles well in the draft. Using all the aero techniques that you have in your arsenal is going to be the key to success this weekend.”

Ryan “Rudy” Fugle, crew chief of the No. 4 NCWTS JBL/SiriusXM Tundra:

What does it take to have a fast truck at Michigan?

“When you first get there it’s all drafting and seems a lot like Daytona and Talladega, but by the time the race starts and all the rubber is down and all the trucks are out there at once it’s a lot of handling and drafting. That makes it like an old-school Daytona – when Daytona was wore out where you had to draft and handle all at the same time. It’s fun as a crew chief to try and get that balance, but it’s also difficult because you never get in a big enough pack in practice to be in the situations that you will be in during the race.”

Christopher Bell’s No. 4 JBL/SiriusXM Tundra:

KBM-044: The No. 4 JBL/SiriusXM Racing team will unload KBM-044 for Saturday’s LTi Printing 200 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. It is the same Tundra that Kyle Busch led a race-high 91 laps en route to victory with earlier this season at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

KBM-044 Performance Profile:

 

Date
Track
Driver
Start
Finish
Laps
Laps Led
Status
6/9/2017
Texas
Snider
13
16
160/167
0
Accident
5/12/2017
Kansas
Busch
10
1
167/167
91
Running

 

Notes of Interest:

 

Christopher Bell NCWTS Career Stats:

 

Year
Age
Races
Win
T5
T10
Pole
Laps
Led
AvSt
AvFn
RAF
LLF
2015
20
7 of 23
1
2
3
0
1018
111
9.3
11.9
6
4
2016
21
23 of 23
1
9
17
0
3237
197
9.2
9.5
20
19
2017
22
12 of 12
4
8
11
3
1703
521
4.2
5.6
11
11
3 years
42
6
19
31
3
5958
829
7.8
8.8
37
34

 

Christopher Bell’s NCWTS Michigan Performance Profile:

Date

Start

Finish

Laps

Laps Led

Status

8/27/16

5

24

74/100

0

accident

Christopher Bell 2017 Highlights
  • Has posted four wins (Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.), three poles, 521 laps led, eight top-five and 11 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 5.6 across 12 NCWTS events
  • After 12 races, leads Johnny Sauter by 18 points in the NCWTS regular season driver’s point standings Leads the NCWTS in wins (four), poles (three), driver rating (118.9), playoff points (24), average starting position (4.3), average finish (5.6), laps led (521) and fastest laps run (228)
  • Became first driver under NASCAR’s new format to sweep all three stages of a race when he led 99 of 130 laps en route to victory from the pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway (3/14/17)
  • Has one pole, one top-five and one top-10 finish in two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing
  • In Midgets has six victories; opened the 2017 season by winning the prestigious Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway (1/15/17), swept both features at the Fourth Annual POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Turnpike Challenge at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City, Okla. (3/26/17), won consecutive USAC National Midget events at Macon (Ill.) Speedway (7/1/17) and Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway (7/2/17) and the USAC National Midget event at Solomon Valley in Beloit, Kansas (8/3/17)
  • In Sprint Cars has three victories; won the NRA Sprint Invaders feature at Limaland Motorsports Park in Lima, Ohio (4/21/17), the Ninth Annual Lou Blaney Memorial All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car race at Sharon (Ohio) Speedway (7/8/17) and the Knight Before the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio (7/14/17)
Christopher Bell 2016 Highlights
  • Finished third in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase after collecting one win, nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes across 23 NCWTS starts in his first full-time campaign

  • Earned his first NCWTS win of 2016, his first on pavement and the second of his career, when he led 38 of the final 42 laps at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill.

  • Ranked first among NCWTS drivers in quality passes (782), third in driver rating (95.9), fastest laps run (189), average running position (9.608) and green flag speed (6.421)

  • Finished second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings behind KBM teammate William Byron

  • Led a race-high 91 laps, including the final 44, of the 200-lap event at Salem (Ind.) Speedway en route to victory in his first-career start in the ARCA Racing Series and made it a sweep of the Indiana track leading 88 laps and bringing home the victory in the September event

  • Picked up his eighth career Late Model victory for KBM with a win in the CARS Super Late Model Tour event at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C and on dirt collected four 410-Winged Sprint Car wins and one USAC National Midget victory

Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Tundra:

  • The No. 4 Tundra has collected eight wins, eight poles, 28 top-five and 48 top-10 finishes across 58 starts since originating in 2015

  • Ten members of this year’s No. 4 Tundra team were a part of last year’s No. 9 Tundra team which collected seven wins, three poles, 727 laps led, 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes across 23 starts last season and captured the 2016 NCWTS Owner’s Championship

  • Erik Jones delivered KBM its first-ever NASCAR Camping World (NCWTS) Driver’s Championship behind the wheel of the No. 4 Tundra in 2015 

KBM NCWTS Program

  • Holds the NCWTS records for most career wins (62), most wins in a single season (14 in 2014) and most Owner’s championships (five)

  • Erik Jones earned the organization its first-ever NCWTS Driver’s championship in 2015

  • Has collected 62 wins, 33 poles, 144 top-five and 233 top-10 finishes across 386 starts since originating in 2010

  • Nine different drivers have won a race for KBM, led by owner-driver Kyle Busch with 32. Erik Jones and William Byron each collected seven victories, Christopher Bell has six triumphs, Darrell Wallace Jr., has five wins, Denny Hamlin has produced two victories while Daniel Suarez, Kasey Kahne and Brian Scott each collected one trophy

  • With Bell’s victory at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway KBM has at least one win at all 21 tracks on the 2017 NCWTS schedule

KBM NCWTS @ Michigan International Speedway

  • KBM drivers have collected one win, 253 laps led, six top-five and seven top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.6 across 14 starts at Michigan

  • Owner-driver Kyle Busch led a race-high 44 laps and claimed KBM’s lone victory in the Irish Hills in the 2015 event

The Fugle File:

Ryan “Rudy” Fugle begins his fourth season as a crew chief at KBM and sixth overall with the organization.  The New York native has guided his team to an Owner’s championship in all three of his seasons (2013, 2015 & 2016) atop the pit box at KBM, including a combined Owner’s/Driver’s Championship with Erik Jones in 2015. His drivers have combined for 20 wins, 12 poles and 40 top-five finishes across his 80 races calling the shots for the organization. Under his tutelage last season, William Byron collected a Truck Series’ rookie record seven wins while leading the No. 9 Tundra team to KBM’s fourth consecutive and fifth overall Owner’s championship.

Fugle’s NCWTS drivers have posted 58 laps led and finished inside the top five in each of his three starts calling the shots at Michigan. William Byron led nine laps and finished fourth in last year’s event.

Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Tundra 2017 NCWTS Box Score:

 

Date
Site
Driver
Start
Finish
Laps
Laps Led
Status
Driver Pts./Pos.
2/24/17
Daytona
Bell
4
8
100/100
6
Running
33/9th
3/4/17
Atlanta
Bell
1
1
130/130
99
Running
93/1st
4/1/17
Martinsville
Bell
6
3
250/250
96
Running
136/2nd
5/12/17
Kansas
Bell
1
4
167/167
37
Running
187/2nd
5/19/17
Charlotte
Bell
1
3
134/134
2
Running
227/2nd
6/2/17
Dover
Bell
3
25
35/200
0
Accident
239/2nd
6/9/17
Texas
Bell
21
1
167/167
92
Running
298/2nd
6/17/17
Gateway
Bell
3
6
160/160
7
Running
342/2nd
6/23/17
Iowa
Bell
2
5
200/200
99
Running
391/2nd
7/6/17
Kentucky
Bell
2
1
150/150
54
Running
436/2nd
7/19/17
Eldora
Bell
4
9
150/150
22
Running
471/2nd
7/29/17
Pocono
Bell
3
1
60/60
7
Running
528/1st

 TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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